One of Spain’s famous gourmet stores was, to my delight, just at the end of our street. How convenient. Oli Sal is famous for their olive oils, salts, vinegars and more. The quality of their product is top notch and even though the sales woman who was at the counter that day did not speak English, and I do not speak Spanish, we were able to understand each other.
I almost purchased a chocolate balsamic that seemed tempting but through facial expressions, hand gestures and a recognizable word here and there, she was able to explain that the chocolate sinks to the bottom. You really have to shake it a LOT to get it to mix up properly and it still has a grainy texture with a pronounced cinnamon flavour that she did not care for. Basically, she felt that chocolate should be chocolate and oil should be oil and the two should not be mixed. Which was clearly apparent in the bottle.
A friend of mine had brought back a gift box of 8 flavours from the same store when she had taken a trip to Spain last year. They each had wonderful flavours but I have yet to decide what to do with the coffee flavoured one. Maybe add it to a cake?
They were only 40 ml each though, a flavour tease. Just enough to make an olive oil shooter, or a single serving salad. Tapas sized! Small but packed with flavour and just enough to make you want to buy a larger size.
I tend to lean toward citrus flavours and purchased a bottle of the lemon infused oil and a ginger one that caught my eye.
I have a mixed grains recipe that the lemon flavoured one is perfect in and will soon experiment with the ginger flavour for a more Asian twist. I can taste it now… quinoa, kashka, barley, toasted sesame seeds, maybe almond slivers too, green onions, edamame, a touch of sesame oil, the ginger oil and a splash or two of rice vinegar. Maybe even some dried cranberries (or goggi berries) and a touch of shredded cabbage…. or not. It’s a very versatile recipe depending on which grains you have in your pantry and what else you have on hand.
I also picked up a Valle Magina Anfora Oscura oil in a beautiful amphora bottle that the saleswoman highly recommended. At least I think that’s what she said.
Their website describes it as having “an attractive golden yellow colour with wide olive green sparkles, a clear and bright view. The bouquet has fresh fruity notes, with hints of apple and almonds. A sweet and creamy entrance, with moderate bitterness and a soft step with a pleasant ending. A sweet aftertaste with an almost imperceptible spicyness.” Sounds like a description for a bottle of very fine wine. Sold!
Unbelievably I have not yet opened it or either of the other two. I’ll have to go to one of the bakeries down the street one morning, or head to the St Lawrence Market, and pick up a freshly baked baguette that’s still warm from the ovens. I can taste it now…. fresh warm bread, a drizzle of golden olive oil on a white plate, a bit of fresh cracked pepper, or grate a bit of poivre long, on top to enhance the flavour. Heaven! If you every come across these interesting peppers don’t put them in your pepper mill whole. Your mill will come to a standstill.
They taste very similar to the regular peppercorns but pack a bit more heat and are very hard. A fine rasp that you would grate nutmeg on works perfectly. When they get too small to grate you can alway grind them in a mortar and pestle. I found this interesting shaped one quite a few years ago. The pestle fits perfectly in the mortar and the rocking motion makes crushing spices a breeze. No flying peppercorns, seeds or spices.
Back to the store…
As we were walking to the register, she asked me where I was from and promptly individually wrapped the bottles in bubble wrap to protect them for my return flight to Canada. How thoughtful and considerate. Great customer service! I wish we had been able to understand each other better so that we could have discussed their products and share recipe possibilities a bit more.
You must visit this store if you are in their neighbourhood, or pick up some of their products at the duty free on your way back home. Don’t rely on the duty free stores to have what you missed or forgot to buy during your travels though.
Visit Spain and savour the warmth of their people!